Tag Archives: Shakespeare

Behind the scenes at the Shakespeare pop-up exhibition: How to make your very own book cradle- An instructable!

As part of the preparation for the Shakespeare pop-up exhibition book cradles were especially made for a selection of volumes exhibited. This was done to make sure that the books that were displayed were fully supported and not to put undue strain on the open volumes and bindings. Improper display and handling of books can cause irreparable damage! To avoid causing damage to the open volumes each book has a cradle especially made to fit each individual book on the specific page it is opened on!

How to make your very own book cradle

1. Decide what page you want to display your book on.

2. Using a large sheet of paper (bigger than your book!) draw a horizontal line towards the bottom of your sheet of paper.

3. Open your book up to the appropriate page. Stand your book up on your piece of paper with the spine on the horizontal line.

4. Mark on the paper the edges of the boards and the spine.

5. Like dot to dot join up your marks!

6. Measure the lines you have drawn.

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7. Pick up your card, mark one end of it to indicate the starting point. Starting a couple of cm along the baseline from the bottom left hand corner, mark on the strip all the points where the line changes direction.

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Birmingham Heritage Week – A Retrospective

The Wolfson Centre returned to normal this morning after hosting not one but TWO pop-up exhibitions in the last three days!

Shakespeare First Folio - on display in the Wolfson Centre on Saturday (under strict supervision by our Conservator!)

Shakespeare First Folio – on display in the Wolfson Centre on Saturday (under strict supervision by our Conservator!)

Saturday was another success for our re-run of the Shakespeare: Infinite Varieties exhibition, which included some fabulous items that were previously on show in the gallery as part of Our Shakespeare. Also on display was the First Folio, giving visitors the chance to get up close (but not touch!) this fantastic volume. Believe it or not, the book that drew even more attention was this one:

German Shakespeareans [132093]

German Shakespeareans
[132093]

It was given to the Library by  Professor Frederik Augustus Leo in 1878 who had clearly appreciated the help he had received when studying! You can access a digital copy online via the Shakespeare Album website.

Last night was the launch of the Children at War project by the Friends of Archives & Heritage. Visitors were again treated to a wonderful exhibition giving a  rich and varied snapshot of the experience of the child during the First World War. This was only the beginning of the project and they would love to hear from people who would like to volunteer and get involved. For details of the project, please visit their website and get in touch through their Contact page!

A great turn out for the Children at War launch event.

Nicola Crews
Archivist

Shakespeare: Infinite Variety in Birmingham’s Archive & Collections. A pop-up exhibition for Birmingham Heritage Week!

Back by popular demand for Birmingham Heritage Week 2016 and as part of the Library of Birmingham’s programme of events to mark 400 years of Shakespeare, Birmingham Archives & Collections is hosting a pop-up exhibition on Saturday 10th September (1-4pm) to showcase some of the diverse and surprising items you can expect to find that “relate” to Shakespeare held in the Library’s collections! Themes include:

  • What’s in a name… the Birmingham Shakespeares… (yes there are lots!)

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  • Shakespeare’s “Beauties”

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  • Miniature Shakespeare

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  • Reading Shakespeare … and more!

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Staff and our invaluable pop-up volunteers will be on hand to talk to you about the items on display, and you might get to spell your name out in Shakespearean letters…

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And… if you missed the ‘Our Shakespeare’ exhibition at the Library of Birmingham, you will be able to see some of the highlights close up! Come along and see what we choose…!

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Venue and details : 10th September 2016, 1-4pm in the Wolfson Centre, Level 4, Library of Birmingham. Free event. No Booking required.

 

Shakespeare’s journey to Birmingham

Everybody knows that the library holds a copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio. [You didn’t know?! Well then, you should check out the Shakespeare exhibition on level 3.] But how did it come to be in the possession of the library?  To find out the provenance of this important work, I donned my deerstalker and pipe (unlit) to carry out a bit of detective work using the archival records of the Library Committee of the City Council.

The first step was to find out when the first folio came in to the library’s possession.  Each and every item that came into the library from 1879 onwards was given an accession number sequentially from 1 onwards.  The first folio has the accession number 35470.  Knowing this, I was able to check the Location Books (the closest thing we have to accession registers as the actual registers for this period are not extant).  This tells us that the volume came in around 1881.

Armed with this knowledge, I went to the records of the Free Libraries Committee (reference: BCC/1/AT/1/1/5) held in the Archives and Collections stores knowing that I was looking for a minute referring to the first folio somewhere in 1881.

Minutes of the Library Commitee 1881 [BCC/1/AT]

Minutes of the Free Libraries Committee 1881
[BCC/1/AT/1/1/5]

And there we have it: the Libraries Committee reported on the 7th of December 1881 that the first folio (and, intriguingly, third folio) were bought together for £310 by a resolution of the Management Committee.   To put this into some context, the chief librarian’s salary at that time was £3 a week [cf. BCC/1/AT/1/1/5, minute 4634].  But where were they purchased?  To dig deeper we go to the minutes of the Management Committee (BCC/1/AT/3/1/1).  Sure enough, the minutes for the 29th of September 1881 tell us:

Minutes of the Management Committee [BCC/1/AT/3/1/1]

Minutes of the Management Committee
[BCC/1/AT/3/1/1]

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Humbly, sir, I thank you.

William

Here at the Iron Room, we are very happy to report that our pop -up exhibition to coincide with the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death and the opening of our new gallery exhibition was a huge success! 

Over 100 people came up to see us in the Wolfson Centre on Saturday to see some of the delightful (and unusual) references to the name Shakespeare across our collections. We were very honoured to have William Shakespeare himself stop by to say hello and listen to a bit of 20th century Shakespeare!

William Shakespeare - searching for ancestors in the Guild Book of Knowle

William Shakespeare – searching for ancestors in the Guild Book of Knowle

 

Old meets new. Listening to a radio ballad of Romeo and Juliet from the Charles Parker Archive [MS 4000]

Old meets new. Listening to a radio ballad of Romeo and Juliet from the Charles Parker Archive [MS 4000]

Thank you to everyone who came, it was a fantastic day!

If you missed our pop-up exhibition, you can catch up online through the Birmingham Images website.  A brand new exhibition Our Shakespeare in conjunction with the British Library is now open in the gallery on level 3 and runs until September. Admission is free so why not come along!

It’s almost here!

Our Shakespeare

To mark the 400th anniversary of the death of Shakespeare, the Library of Birmingham will be hosting a family day of activities this Saturday, 23rd April.

A brand new exhibition Our Shakesepeare,  presented in partnership with the British Librarywill be opening on Friday, 22nd April, in the gallery on level 3 of the Library of Birmingham. The exhibition will be running until September and as part of the launch, there will be a range of activities in the Library on Saturday, including our own pop-up exhibition in the Wolfson Centre on level 4.

You can download the Our Shakespeare Family Day leaflet for details of events across the library.

“A hundred thousand welcomes!”

Macbeth and War

1 The Tragedie of Macbeth.  Illustrated by Moyr Smith. 1889. S334.1889

The Tragedie of Macbeth. Illustrated by Moyr Smith. 1889. S334.1889

Shakespeare’s Macbeth is a bloodthirsty tale of ambition, treachery and aggression, one which resonates with the Library of Birmingham’s season of ‘Voices of War’.  To coincide with the library’s wonderful exhibition: ‘Voices of War: Birmingham People 1914 – 1918’, the Collection Curators at the Library of Birmingham are holding a public display of some of the art work from this great story to highlight the extensive Shakespeare collection, the second largest in the world behind the Folger Library in Washington.

This free event will be held on Saturday 1 November, 12.00 – 2.00 in the Heritage Learning Suite on Floor 4 of the Library of Birmingham.

‘Macbeth and War’

The play opens with three witches, described by Banquo, friend to Macbeth, as “So withered and so wild in attire, that look not like th’ inhabitants o’ th’ earth and yet are on ‘t? – Live you?”  (Act I, Scene II)

2 H. Fuseli.  Three Witches.  1783. The Forrest Collection.  Macbeth Vol. 1.  S790.1 F

H. Fuseli. Three Witches. 1783. The Forrest Collection.  Macbeth Vol. 1.  S790.1 F

The witches arrange to meet Macbeth, who is fighting a great and bloody battle against the allied forces of Norway and Ireland. When they meet the witches give them three predictions: that Macbeth will become Thane of Cawdor, that he will be the King of Scotland, and Banquo’s descendants will also become kings.

Macbeth relays these prophesies to his wife, Lady Macbeth, and between them they go on a spree of treachery and murder, invoking evil spirits to achieve their perceived covetous right.

3 Lady Macbeth played by the renowned Shakespearian actor Mrs Siddons who frequently acted for Royalty.

Lady Macbeth played by the renowned Shakespearian actor Mrs Siddons who frequently acted for Royalty. From the scrapbook: Illustrations of Shakespeare                    Vol. 2. S790.8 FL

Due to his war heroics Macbeth is proclaimed Thane of Cawdor by King Duncan but to enact the prophesies Macbeth and Lady Macbeth need to remove the King from his position.  Whilst Macbeth’s loyalty to the King causes him to deliberate with killing King Duncan, his masculinity is questioned by Lady Macbeth who goads him into action.  Macbeth states that “We will proceed no further in this business.  He hath honoured me of late and I have bought golden opinions from all sorts of people, which would be worn now in their newest gloss, not cast aside so soon” (Act I, Scene VII) to which Lady Macbeth responds: “What beast was’t, then, that made you break this enterprise to me, then you were a man; and to be more than what you were, you would be so much more than man” (Act I, Scene VII).  Helped on by this verbal onslaught Macbeth kills King Duncan via a plan hatched by his wife.

4 Illustrations Of Shakespeare. Heath, Hall, Rhodes, Fitler, etc. 1817.

Illustrations Of Shakespeare. Heath, Hall, Rhodes, Fitler, etc. 1817. S794 SL

Macbeth ascends to the throne but with the realisation that the second prediction from the witches has come true, he is now in fear of the third prediction, that Banquo’s descendants will also be kings. Macbeth therefore decides to kill Banquo and his son, Fleance, but the ghastly deed does not go as planned, Banquo is killed but Fleance escapes the murderers.

5 Illustrations Of The Plays Of Shakespeare.  H. Bunbury.  1793.  S792 FL

Illustrations Of The Plays Of Shakespeare. H. Bunbury. 1793. S792 FL

Attending a royal feast with tables laden with food, Macbeth goes to sit at the head of the royal table but finds Banquo’s ghost sitting in his chair.  With no-one else able to see the apparition Macbeth believes he is going mad.

6 Scenes From Shakespeare For The Young.  Illustrated by H. Sidney. 1885. S794.FL

Scenes From Shakespeare For The Young. Illustrated by H. Sidney. 1885. S794.FL

Macbeth again visits the witches to ask them to reveal the truth of their prophecies. The witches circle their bubbling cauldron, chanting spells and adding strange ingredients to their brew: “eye of newt and toe of frog, wool of bat and tongue of dog, adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting, lizard’s leg and owlet’s wing, for a charm of powerful trouble, like a hell-broth boil and bubble” (Act IV Scene I).

7 From the Scrapbook Illustrations of Shakespeare Vol. 2. S790.8 FL

From the Scrapbook Illustrations of Shakespeare            Vol. 2. S790.8 FL

To answer his questions the witches reveal to Macbeth horrible apparitions. The first is a floating head warning him to beware of Macduff to which Macbeth responds that he has already guessed as much. The second is a bloody child which states that “none of woman born shall harm Macbeth” (Act IV Scene I). Next, a crowned child holding a tree tells him that he is safe until ‘Birnam Wood’ moves to Dunsinane Hill, the royal castle. The last apparition is of a procession of eight crowned kings, the last holding a mirror. Banquo’s ghost walks at the end of the line. Macbeth demands to know the meaning of this final vision, but the three witches perform a bizarre dance and vanish from view.

8 The Tragedie of Macbeth.  Illustrated by Moyr Smith. 1889. S334.1889

The Tragedie of Macbeth. Illustrated by Moyr Smith. 1889. S334.1889

Macbeth becomes more ruthless and blood thirsty, killing the family of Lord Macduff, whom he has been told has fled to England to amass troops to fight against him.  Lady Macbeth, wreaked with guilt about King Duncan, becomes deranged, having “thick-coming fancies” (Act 5, Scene 3) and news comes to Macbeth via a messenger that she is dead.

9 Lady Macbeth played by Violet Van… From the scrapbook Illustrations of Shakespeare Vol. 2. S790.8

Lady Macbeth played by Violet Van… From the scrapbook Illustrations of Shakespeare Vol. 2. S790.8

Near Birnam Wood a large army masses and Macbeth plans to defend the fortified castle. The soldiers each take a branch from trees in the wood and together they march to the castle, thereby disguising their numbers.

Macduff finds Macbeth and a spirit relates to him that Macduff was born by a caesarean, “Macduff was from his mother’s womb, untimely ripped. (Act 5, Scene 8)”. The final two predictions by the witches, that Birnam Wood’ moves to Dunsinane Hill and none of woman born shall harm Macbeth come to pass and Macbeth is slain by Macduff.

10 The Tragedie of Macbeth.  Illustrated by Moyr Smith. 1889. S334.1889

The Tragedie of Macbeth. Illustrated by Moyr Smith. 1889. S334.1889

The tale highlights that the manner of Macbeth’s kingship, one of tyranny and without legitimacy, as it is not based on loyalty to the state, is the worst possible and that true kingship can only be one motivated by love of the kingdom more than by pure self-interest.

The free event ‘Macbeth and War’ will be held on Saturday 1 November, 12.00 – 2.00 in the Heritage Learning Suite on Floor 4 of the Library of Birmingham.

All are welcome though queues may be possible.

Phil Burns, Collection Curator, Library of Birmingham